Friends, the American sitcom that changed not only television and people’s perception of it but also brought about iconic fashion trends of the 90s that still inspire people. It ran its course for 10 years, from 1994 to 2004, and stole hearts from all over the world.
Not only were people in love with these 6 quirky, hilarious characters, the discussion also began on “friendship goals.” The TV show guaranteed laughter in every second line, a good guest star or two every season, an exciting plot point when we least expected it, and of course, the best proposals and weddings.
While Friends changed the sitcom culture for decades to come, it also had its issues. For a long while, everyone was happy that the show was breaking norms. Whether it was by showing a lesbian wedding, surrogacy, adoption, or a transwoman (Chandler’s parent), it seemed as if Friends were doing all the right things until it wasn’t.
People evolved, and there was a “woke” revolution, so to say, everywhere. Suddenly, the problematic areas of Friends were shed light on. Jokes that were followed by a laughing track before were now noticed as homophobic, transphobic, and sexist. There was the objectification of women and a severe lack of diversity.
Some characters arcs, like Ross trying to get together with his cousin or Chandler (Matthew Perry) making fun of his transgender parent, didn’t seem so hilarious anymore.
As a Friends fan myself, I think it’s good to critique the show through a new lens of sensitivity. After all, shows are influential and shouldn’t be promoting problematic behavior even in the form of jokes.
However, it also doesn’t make sense to disregard the revolutionary change the show brought completely. You can love the show and still acknowledge that some of its arcs weren’t OK. It was the 90s, and these things were the norm then.
Thankfully, we have increased our understanding and demand shows to be more vocal about social issues and have adequate representation. As a result, in this day and age, we are now seeing amazing “woke” shows that are making strides in terms of normalization, inclusion, diversity, and spreading awareness.
Friends is a classic. Through ten seasons, we fell in love with every character. Most of us have seen it enough to recite episodes line by line. And we recognize each piece of furniture and décor as if it’s our own.
Whether it is the golden mirror frame on Monica’s door or Pat the dog, Joey’s (Matt LeBlanc) ceramic white dog, or the classic couch in Central Perk where they all hang out! We would all love to own these little pieces of décor, which is probably why a lot of it is available in stores as merchandise.
The Friends café i.e., Central Perk, seems to be the best place to hang out with your friends. It’s not too busy, cozy, has cool décor, lots of coffee, and of course, our all-time favorite- Gunther!
If you are a Friends fan, I bet you wish you could have a cup of coffee at the Friends café, even if that means Rachel was messing up your order! Either way, our friends’ fans are always up to know some fantastic trivia.
21 Unbelievable Facts About Friends Café:
1. Backdrop Change
The background behind the wall on which the Central Perk logo appears was painted in the first season due to budget constraints. So, what seemed to be a street outside was just a painted wall. Since they showed people continually walking in front of it, it looked genuine.
The window was also faded and had many plants and artwork to cover the fact that the background wasn’t real. However, in the later seasons, a set resembling a street was built there. And on this same set, we later saw Phoebe and Mike’s wedding in the final season.
2. The Classic Orange Couch
The classic orange couch where our favorite characters sat in the Friends café was an entirely accidental discovery. The beautiful couch was found in perfect condition in the Warner Brother Studio’s basement storage. While we don’t know who may have left that ideal piece of furniture there, we do know that it perfectly fits the vintage vibe of the show.
3. Orange- A Pop of Color
The show-creators first wanted a lighter colored couch, something along the lines of beige. But later, after finding the orange couch, they realized it was more suitable. Not to mention, it added a dash of color to the hundred of scenes filmed where the characters had conversation sitting on the couch.
4. Changes in Props
Friends always had their way of sprucing the sets up with little pieces of artwork, vintage and rustic items. That’s why the paintings that appeared on the wall behind the couch in the Friends café was changed after every six episodes. All other artwork too changed once in three episodes.
5. Gunther’s Character Was An Accidental Gift
Interestingly, James Michael Tyler, the actor who played Gunther, was initially hired as an extra to work in the Friends café. When they asked for someone who could work the counter, he was the only one who knew how to operate the coffee machine. And so, he was hired and eventually, given the name Gunther and a memorable character.
6. The Singing Stage
Phoebe was Central Perk’s favorite entertainer. She used to go up to sing all the time, on a stage in the café. However, when she wasn’t, there was no area for the stage, and no one else was performing.
They placed seats and tables there instead. Maybe Phoebe Buffay was the only singer they could afford?
7. How Did The Friends Always Get A Seat?
It’s always been a mystery how the six characters managed to secure seats on their favorite couch in the Friends café. But not anymore! In many episodes, you can spot a reserved sign on the coffee table. You have to look for it, though!
8. Central Perk Was Very Close To Being A Diner!
Friends was a bold show that experimented a lot for its time. In the 90s, with shows like Seinfeld, people were more used to seeing diners instead of a coffee-shop. However, the makers decided to go along with the coffeehouse idea instead, which is probably one of the best decisions they ever made.
9. How Many Times Did We See The Owner?
Not many. A lot of people think Gunther owned the coffeehouse, but that isn’t true. The real owner was named Terry, and he appeared only in two episodes. And those too were to criticize the characters, Rachel for her waitressing and Phoebe for her singing.
10. Where Is Central Perk?
Now this question has a debatable answer. Every fan might have a different theory. In some episodes, we were led to believe that the Friends café was located on the lowest floor of the building, which had Monica’s apartment.
However, Joey once mentions that it was ninety-seven steps from his apartment, which was right opposite Monica’s building and thus, not that far. Experts, after much calculation and analysis of the New York City Streets, have decided that it would be located on Hudson Street.
11. There Was Actual Coffee In Those Mugs!
We have seen the six characters sip coffee innumerable times in the Friends café! And we have also seen Rachel and Joey (on different occasions and seasons) serve it. That made many fans question- was there real coffee in those mugs, or were the six friends good at pretend-sipping?
James Michael Tyler, the actor who played Gunther, answered our question. He told the Express that the main characters did sip actual coffee if the scene required it. However, the extras were given empty cups.
12. The Orange Couch is the Same As In The Theme Song
Only real fans will know this. Because we have seen the theme song innumerable times, and have also sung and clapped (thrice) along with it. The “skip-intros” will have no idea about this.
The orange couch in the Friends café, the favorite spot for our characters to hang out, was the same one as in the theme song. In the end, Monica sits on its edge and turns out a yellow lamp to her side.
13. Phoebe Would Never Be Hired To Sing In Real Life!
Phoebe often performed at Central Perk, with a guitar in her hand and immemorable expressions on her face. Songs like Smelly Hat, Little Black Curly Hair, Snowman, and many more performed in the Friends café still have a special place in our hearts.
However, Lisa Kudrow doesn’t even know how to play the guitar! Though the makers tried to train her, she decided to learn only a few chords. Watch this video to see some of Phoebe’s most iconic song performances:
14. The Couch Stealers Were The Show Makers
We all remember that scene from the first episode of the third season when the cast walks in Central Perk and finds the couch occupied. They turn around and walk away then, followed by a loud laughing reel. The people who had occupied the couch were the show makers, namely Marta Kauffman, Kevin Bright, and David Crane. Click here to find out secrets revealed about the show by the makers.
15. A Parting Gift From Central Perk
Each leading cast member had gifted a section of the sidewalk outside the Friends café when the show ended. Friends had a whopping ten-year-long run, and the cast was very attached to the show. They all took this parting gift and have kept it since as a memento of those iconic ten years.
16. A LEGO Set Replicated The Set Of Friends!
Friends left a long-lasting impact. Even 16 years after its end, it hasn’t been forgotten; in 2019, the classic show was honored by LEGO as they decided to make a LEGO set of Central Perk! Now the Friends café can find its way to everyone’s home.
17. Central Perk Was Initially A Bar
“The One With The Flashback” shed a lot of light on the characters’ lives before Central Perk and Rachel came into their lives. Back then, it was a bar, which had a pool table, brick walls, and dark lighting. The friends used to hang out there and were seemingly bummed when they discovered that the bar would be converted into a coffeehouse. Little did they know.
18. Gunther’s Keepsake
Gunther may not have been a part of the main cast, but he was an important, unforgettable character. He had a crush on Rachel throughout the run of the show before finally confessing it in the last episode. The blue patterned tie he wore in that scene served as a keepsake for him, and he asked the makers if he could keep it. I wonder if he still looks at it and thinks of Rachel.
19. You Can Hang Out At Central Perk With Your Friends!
Have you always dreamed of sipping coffee in the Friends café? You actually can! Central Perk is an actual coffeehouse, which has been franchised in many locations like New York, Dubai, and Dublin.
Now, you can head there and live life (almost) that the six friends did! This coffeehouse came about after years of fans putting up demands and requests of experiencing drinking coffee in Central Perk.
20. How Expensive is Central Perk?
As it turns out, not much. The friends regularly hung out there and placed orders for coffees, scones, muffins, and teas without a second thought.
Joey once stated that a combination of coffee and scone is $4.25. A double latte and herbal tea cost $2.75 and $1.25, respectively. After learning the price, it makes much more sense how all of them are afforded to eat in the Friends café so often.
21. Jennifer Aniston Left A Stain On The Couch In The Finale
Miraculously, the cast never spilled any coffee on the couch in the ten year run of the show though they used it regularly for many scenes. However, the sad day arrived on the day the finale was shot. Jennifer Aniston accidentally leaked a blue stain of a pen, which left a stain on the couch. But as long as our beloved Rachel does it, it’s OK.
Friends have brought joy to millions of fans across the globe. Even 16 years after its end, its magic has been kept alive. Now that most of us have seen its reruns hundreds of times, we look for trivia to know more about the cast members. Click here if you’re a super-fan and want to re-watch the ten best episodes of this gem of a show.